From 150 to 165 in time for the October 2013 LSAT? While getting married in the meantime?

The October 2013 LSAT is just around the corner, so I've started getting lots of emails like the one below. See if this sounds at all like you:

Hey Nathan,

My name is Gabe, and I intend to take the LSAT in October. I've been back-and-forth with the idea of going to law school for about five years now, but after some serious soul-searching, I've finally decided it's something I definitely want to do. 

I've committed myself to actually preparing for the test this time -- I took the LSAT back in 2007 after about 2 weeks of the most lackadaisical preparation you can imagine -- but I'm getting married in a month so I don't have enough spare cash for a prep course. Instead, I've made up my mind to use your books/blog and a shitload of practice tests to get ready for the test, but I'm not quite sure where to start. 

So basically, my question to you is where do you suggest I start? One of your Breaking, Exposing or Cheating books? Introducing the LSAT? Or would you recommend taking an old test as a diagnostic to see where I'm the weakest and use that as a starting point? Or have I missed the mark completely here? And just a little background on me (because, like most questions, I assume "it depends" is always a plausible answer): 
  • I'm familiar with the layout/sections of the LSAT 
  • I'm familiar with most of the question types and games, but I wasn't able to differentiate them from each other in the past (e.g. sufficient vs. necessary assumption)
  • My goal is 163-165ish, and I scored around 150 in 2007
  • I'm willing to put in the work from now until October, so I'm cool with "do all of the above...and then do some more practice tests"  

Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Hey Gabe, thanks for writing!

First, I'm glad you've done some "serious soul searching" before diving into law school. The #1 reason why there are so many unhappy lawyers is that far too many people dive into law school without any clear idea of what lawyers actually do. In my LSAT classes, I frequently find myself talking naive wannabe lawyers OUT of law school. I'm glad you've taken it seriously, and I hope I can help you achieve your goals.

Improving from 150 to 163-165ish is definitely achievable... I've seen hundreds of students make the leap. But it's not going to be easy, as you seem to recognize. It will take a serious commitment of time and energy, especially if you're hoping to get there in time for the October test (while getting married between now and then!)

My single best piece of LSAT advice is this: Do a little bit of studying EVERY DAY between now and your test date. Now, "EVERY DAY" is probably impossible on your wedding day (and probably the day before, and maybe you're going on a honeymoon, etc.) but aside from unavoidable conflicts you really should shoot for every single day. It's like the gym... you can't just do 6 hours on Saturday and expect that's going to be good. You need to do bite-sized chunks on a super-consistent basis if you want to see real effects. For perspective, the students in my 12-week LSAT class do 21 full tests, mostly as homework, and attend 24 four-hour lectures. It's 15-20 hours per week of work for 12 weeks straight. That's your competition.

Attack it like any major project: Break it into bite-sized chunks, and get started right away. A practice test is the only sensible first step. Before you do a test, you'll have no idea where you need to spend your time. So do a test, identify your weaknesses, and go to work on them. That's the best way to improve.

If you decide that Logical Reasoning is your weakness, I'd strongly recommend my Logical Reasoning Encyclopedia ("Disrespecting the LSAT"). The Encyclopedia has over 600 real LSAT questions, divided up by type and difficulty... it's the surest way to learn the difference between Sufficient Assumption and Necessary Assumption questions. But before you dig into that book...

Did you know that the first 15 hours of my online LSAT course are free? The free online class includes a short introductory class, and then 6 full LSAT lessons... that's 5 full LSATs explained. Well, there's not time for every single question... but you'll see me diagram all four logic games in each test, reason my way through tons of logical reasoning questions, and do a few of my basic concepts quizzes. The free online course covers the first three weeks of one of my in-person LSAT classes. I can't imagine a better way to study on a budget.

You might already have the tests that I cover in the free portion of the online class: It's June 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008. But if you don't already have the tests, there's a "starter kit" available for $30 on the site.

Hope that helps!  Keep in touch as you progress and let me know if I can help.

Best,

--nathan